Re-Examining the Town Square Test

Used by Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush to define a key difference between "free" and "fear" states, historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom looks to the global public uprisings of 2011 to prove the validity of the Town Square Test.
January 11, 2012, 10am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Directly tying the political state of a country to the use of public space, "At the heart of the Town Square Test is the notion that the difference between living in a "free" state and living in a "fear" state is clear and comes down to whether a person can go to the town square and "express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm."

Wasserstrom asserts that Rice encouraged the U.S. Government to use the test to guide foreign policy, identifying opportunities to turn "fear" states into "free" ones.

"News stories from 2011 provided plenty of fresh evidence that people in many parts of the world thirst for a greater degree of freedom and often are willing to take great risks in pursuit of this goal, but in many other ways, the year's events challenged, rather than reinforced, the Town Square Test worldview."

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Published on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 in Miller-McCune
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